Nile Gardiner has an interesting column in The Telegraph titled “Barack Obama’s clueless message to America’s middle class shows a presidency out of touch with reality.” In the first paragraph, Gardiner takes inventory of the many examples of Obamian words and deeds that bear out his proposition:
President Obama has been rolling up his sleeves campaigning across the country delivering a surreal stump speech message supposedly aimed at the middle class; big government works, Obamacare is manna from heaven, the wave of recent scandals are ‘phony’ figments of the imagination, and all economic problems are the fault of the Republicans. Conveniently, he leaves out the bankruptcy of Detroit, a city run by his own party for more than half a century. His message is so stale and unconvincing, that even The New York Times and Washington Post have noticed. Both papers, usually loyal to Obama, remarked that Tuesday’s speech by the president in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was largely a rehash of old rhetoric, with The Post commenting that Obama’s ‘grand bargain’ for the middle class was merely ‘a repackaging of old proposals,’ and swiftly rebuffed by the GOP.
Little needs to be added to the catalog, which is fairly complete. One point that deserves a word or two of additional commentary, however, is a quote from the president’s speech on Tuesday — to wit:
As long as I have the privilege of serving as your president, I’ll spend every minute of every day I have left in this office doing everything I can to build that better bargain for the middle class and make this country a place where everyone who works hard can get ahead. [Emphasis added]
That’s all well and good, but the thought is incomplete. Obama hasn’t taken it the next stage of his hypothetical scenario. Suppose you work hard, as he advocates, and get ahead. Is the president then leading the cheer for you to stay ahead? Not if his past comments are any indication.
Consider that some of the hardest-working (if not the hardest-working) people in the country are CEOs. Take as a case in point Christine Day, who retired in June from her position at the helm of Lululemon Athletica, a Canadian retailer of high-end fitness clothing founded in 1998.
During Day’s five-plus years running the company, sales surpassed the $1 billion mark, and shares in its publicly traded stock increased by 400%. Currently Lulemon has more stores in the U.S., at 66, than in Canada, where there are 41 outlets.
Success didn’t come easily to Day, who logged 18-hour days throughout her tenure as chief executive. This is hardly a rarity for people at the top of the corporate ladder. Their compensation, it follows, tends to be handsome. In 2011, Day’s base salary was $646,771. When you factor in stock options and other incentives, you arrive at her total compensation package: $3,611,117.
That actually places Day at the low end of the spectrum for millionaires in North America. In 2010, there were 40,000 people living on the continent who had amassed fortunes of $30 million or more.
So what would Obama say to these people who are the living embodiment in his words of the American dream? He thinks they should give away a large percentage of the money they earn to total strangers. He has said as much repeatedly. Here he is in 2011, during one of his many battles over the debt ceiling with Republicans in Congress:
I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am … able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don’t need, while a parent out there who is struggling to figure out how to send their [sic] kid to college suddenly finds that they’ve [sic] got a couple thousand dollars less in grants or student loans. [Emphasis added]
Those highlighted words are some of his most telling: They reveal his addled view first that such a thing as “additional income that a person doesn’t need” exists, and — secondly — it is up to him to decide what that amount is for all Americans.
We know from his repeated assertions that the cut-off point for “wealth” for a family is an income of $250,000. Any income beyond that should be taxed, he has argued, at the top tier so that it can be “redistributed” (actually “distributed” since it didn’t originate in the government’s coffers) to those who have less.
The truly scary thing is that to Obama, who has never held a job in the private sector, believes that this somehow is the definition of “fairness,” of “income equality.”
At bottom, Obama doesn’t believe in the American dream. To him, anyone who gets ahead is a “vulture” or an “abuser” of others. Nile Gardiner is right. Obama is out of touch with reality. Whether it is to a point where he requires psychiatric intervention is a topic for another column.
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